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Escalon Charter Academy - Educational Options
Principally Speaking 02-08-23
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California’s education system funds schools based on school enrollment. For several reasons, many California schools have been facing declining enrollment. Declining enrollment means less funding for schools, forcing them to make cuts and eliminate programs and course offerings.

In 2010 Escalon Unified School District’s reported enrollment fell below 3,000 students for the first time in over a decade. To offset the district’s declining enrollment the Escalon Charter Academy was established in 2012. In its first year, ECA had a reported enrollment of 37 students which helped offset the district’s net 73 student loss. In other words, without ECAs 37 students, district enrollment would have dropped by 120 students. Fast forward to 2021-22, ECA’s reported enrollment was 321 and the total reported district enrollment was 2906. ECA now accounts for over 10 percent of total district enrollment and has helped stabilize district enrollment.

Much of this growth is a result of the addition of the ECA’s homeschool program, Gateway Academy in 2013. In 2013-14, the first year of Gateway Academy, 22 students out of the 100 ECA students enrolled were in the homeschool program. By 2021-22, roughly 250 out of 321 students enrolled in ECA were Gateway students. More than just supporting the district’s declining enrollment, the addition of Gateway offered an additional educational option to our community and adjacent communities.

Obviously, the homeschooling option isn’t for everybody but it can be a very successful approach if done right. The Gateway model, with our teachers working directly with the parents in supporting their child’s education, is proof of the effectiveness of a homeschool program. By the state’s measure, Gateway’s CAASPP scores exceed state and county rankings and represent some of the highest student scores in the district.

More importantly, our scores serve as evidence that our students are learning; which is the only thing that matters. What started out as a means to stave off enrollment declines, Gateway has underscored the need for schools to provide educational options for their students. The real takeaway from this is by providing educational options, our schools can provide programs that meet the needs of the student instead of meeting the needs of the school.


Principally Speaking is a monthly article, contributed by principals from Escalon Unified School District sites, throughout the school year. It is designed to update the community on school events and activities.